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Petition Stricter laws governing the purchase/acquisition/possession of crossbows

Legislate to ensure that safeguards are put in place to reduce the likelihood of these lethal weapons being possessed by those with no legitimate reason to own/use them or where it would likely give rise to concerns for public safety.

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My partner Shane Gilmer, was unlawfully killed on 13 January 2018 after being shot by a crossbow on the night of the 12th. I was also seriously injured by a crossbow bolt in the attack.

Crossbows are silent, lethal, weapons. They have a similar effective range to a shotgun but offer the accuracy of a rifle. They are inexpensive and incredibly easy to obtain and there is currently very little regulation in terms of their purchase and use.

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Government responded

This response was given on 20 May 2021

Crossbows are subject to statutory controls. Legislation is already in place to deal with those who use crossbows as a weapon. The Government has no plans to legislate further at this time.

We were deeply saddened to hear about the abhorrent circumstances in which Mr Gilmer was killed and Ms Sugden was injured, and we recognise the devastating impact that crimes such as this have on the victims, their friends and family and the wider communities in which they live. Our thoughts are with Ms Sugden and the family and friends of Mr Gilmer at this incredibly difficult time.

Crossbows are subject to statutory controls in the Crossbows Act 1987. This Act makes it an offence to sell or hire a crossbow, with a draw weight of 1.4 kilograms or greater to anyone under the age of 18 and prohibits anyone aged under 18 from buying or hiring a crossbow. It is also an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess a crossbow which can discharge a missile or parts of a crossbow which together (and without any other parts) can be assembled to form a crossbow capable of discharging a missile, unless they are under the supervision of a person who is aged 21 or older.

Crossbows may also be considered as offensive weapons. The Prevention of Crime Act 1953 prohibits the possession, in a public place, of any offensive weapon without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. Additionally, under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is also an offence to be in possession of crossbow bolts in a public place without good reason or lawful authority.

If a crossbow is misused to harm a person this is a very serious offence that could amount to actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm or murder under existing criminal legislation. These offences attract severe penalties including life imprisonment in the case of murder.

Whilst it is shocking and tragic when incidents occur where crossbows have been misused, these incidents are fortunately very rare. The vast majority of those using crossbows do so safely and responsibly. At the present time, we believe the laws around crossbows strike the correct balance between protecting the public and also allowing people to own and use crossbows for legitimate activities. In light of this, we have no current plans to introduce further legislation relating to crossbows.

Home Office

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